Petroleum Engineer Jobs

Petroleum Engineer Job Description

Gas and oil is naturally located deep within the ground, and can only be accessed by drilling land or off-shore wells. Petroleum engineers design the equipment used to extract the oil so that we can use it for power.

When a drilling site is selected, petroleum engineers often work very closely with geologists to decide how they should drill. Working with geologists is important, because understanding the rock formations that contain oil reservoirs is necessary to design the most efficient equipment for a job.

After they decide on the best equipment for a job, petroleum engineers need to make sure that the equipment is installed properly, and that the workers who maintain the systems are well trained in its operation.

Today, even the best drilling techniques are only able to extract a fraction of the resources in a reservoir, and petroleum engineers are constantly working on the development of new systems that will extract a higher percentage of the resources.

Because oil spills can have disastrous impacts on the environment, petroleum engineers put a lot of work into improving the overall safety of their designs.

Responsibilities for petroleum engineer jobs often include:

  • Analyzing data to recommend where wells and processing machinery should be placed to maximize production.
  • Monitoring production rates and rework processes to improve production where possible.
  • Taking samples to determine the quality and quantity of oil, the depth at which the oil lies, and the type of equipment that would be needed to extract it.
  • Modifying machinery and tools to increase production or increase profitability.

Work Environment and Schedule

The majority of petroleum engineers work for oil and gas extraction companies, but there are opportunities in other industries as well. Many work as consultants, or in academia.

Petroleum engineers normally split their time between laboratories, offices, and drilling sites. If you love to travel and want to find an occupation that will allow you to see the world, then this could be a great choice for you. Many of the best opportunities for employment require working in foreign countries.

Often times, visiting drilling sites requires extensive travel to remote regions of the earth. While visiting a drilling site, petroleum engineers normally work in shifts. Though the length of shifts vary, they are normally on duty for about three days and then off duty for three days.

Petroleum engineers normally work full time, though overtime is common as deadlines approach or while traveling.

Working in this occupation has serious demands on your time as well as the lifestyle you lead, so it’s important to think about the type of personal life you want to have before pursuing a career as a petroleum engineer.

How to Become a Petroleum Engineer

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for most entry-level petroleum engineer positions, but some employers require a master’s degree for more advanced management roles.

Some colleges and universities have five year petroleum engineering programs. At the completion of these programs, graduates earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Graduating from one of these programs can improve your long-term advancement opportunities.

Before you enroll in any engineering program, you should make sure that it’s accredited by ABET. If the program is not accredited, you will be unable to earn a license.

All states require petroleum engineers to have a license if their services are directly offered to the public. After graduating from an accredited college or university, the first step to becoming licensed is passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. This exam can be taken immediately after graduation.

After four years of work experience, engineers are qualified to take the Professional Engineering exam. Engineers who complete this exam are referred to as professional engineers.

Normally, petroleum engineers begin their careers by working under the supervision of a more advanced engineer. With time, they are able to start working on more advanced projects. Long term, many engineers in this field move on to becoming engineering managers or sales engineers.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 30,200 petroleum engineers in the United States, with 1,180 new petroleum engineer job openings created each year.

Petroleum Engineer jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Petroleum Engineer Salaries

Overall Salaries

Petroleum Engineer salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most petroleum engineers make between $92,200 – $166,400+ per year, or $44.31 – $80+ per hour.

Career as Petroleum/Natural Gas Engineer – Description, Income, & Qualification


A Petroleum engineer work on projects related to production of gas and crude oil products. There are different types of jobs they do in this industry. Some engineers work on designing and manufacturing machinery that can be used to extract oil and gas from underneath earth’s surface. They can also work with exploration-teams to search for oil/gas deposits.

One of the key areas petroleum engineers work on is the development of new and improved equipment that companies can use to extract oil/gas. Companies are looking for ways to reduce the cost of drilling and make the process of extracting oil/gas more efficient. These goals can be achieved by designing new and better equipment, and methods; this is what petroleum engineers are good at doing.

Oil companies want to make the extraction process cheaper so that their profits can increase. They also hire engineers to do research on how they can extract more crude oil or gas; the methods currently used do not extract all the resources.

Petroleum engineers also develop plans and designs for drilling sites. They oversee the construction site and may remain with the company even after drilling plant is ready. This is because companies often hire them to oversee the ongoing extraction work.

Work Conditions and Timings

Petroleum engineers, who are doing research work, spend most of their time in their offices or laboratories. They use computer software to design new machines and methods to make oil/gas extraction more cost-effective.

Petroleum engineers, who design and maintain drilling sites, spend most of their time at the drilling sites. They often have to travel far away from home and live under unpleasant conditions. Work conditions depend on the area where you are working. Some drilling sites are located in high temperature areas; living and working there is a challenging task.


You need at least a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering or engineering degree in any other similar field to get a job in this occupation. Companies prefer to hire engineers who have past work experience. You can also get a master’s degree to improve your chances of getting a job.

Check following links for more information, these are ABET accredited programs:

Job Prospects

There are currently 35,500 petroleum-engineering jobs in USA. BLS estimates that this number will increase by 10% from the year 2014 to 2024. Oil price plays an important role in determining the number of jobs and amount of income in this industry.


These are one of the highest paying jobs with an average annual income of ~$130,000. There are different kinds of jobs in this industry; some of them pay as much as $190,000 annually. People who are doing the lowest paying jobs in petroleum-engineering field are making ~$75,000 yearly.

Updated: 09/02/2017